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Far from a fad, mindfulness has been around for a while now. In fact, with its roots in Buddhist practice, you could say it’s pretty ancient in terms of psychotherapy. A way of focusing on the present moment, mindfulness meditation helps you learn to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and the world around you, with the intention of being better able to cope with your emotions. What’s more, it brings a host of health benefits…

1. Fighting depression

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT – an offshoot of the practice that takes in cognitive therapy techniques) has been proven to benefit sufferers of depression. Designed to help people become more aware of negative thoughts and to break the patterns that characterise recurrent depression, it’s been found to be as effective at reducing repeated bouts of depression as antidepressants.

NICE, the organisation that evaluates medical treatments in the UK, recommends MBCT for people with a history of depression, as it’s been found to reduce the risk of a relapse.

2. Helping chronic illness sufferers

With the aim of bringing an improved mental outlook and ‘acceptance of the now’, mindfulness meditation is thought to be particularly valuable to people with chronic illnesses. A review of the practice found consistent benefits for cancer patients – reduced stress, improved ability to cope, and heightened wellbeing. There have also been plenty of studies looking at whether mindfulness can help with chronic pain, with many giving positive results although a definitive conclusion has not been reached.

3. Tackling stress

Some major companies have seized on mindfulness as a way to help their employees cope with stress. Google is just one global corporation that offers ‘mindfulness in the workplace’ – a practice aimed at targeting high stress levels and poor sleep quality.

Another technique, Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), shows dramatic results in tackling stress, with 58% lower anxiety and 40% reduction of stress levels.

4. Valuing the moment

The core emotional principles of mindfulness – living in the moment and appreciating what we have – are wonderful ways to bring about contentedness. By learning to slow down and take a step back from the hectic pace of life, you’re more likely to notice the good things and feel a much greater sense of wellbeing.

5. For new parents

Taking the time for a spot of meditation while your newborn is grumbling for a feed? Well, maybe it could be just what you need! A pilot study on Mindfulness-based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) found that this approach was hugely helpful to the new mothers who took part, teaching them a broader range of coping strategies. It highlighted the value of living in the moment and adopting an accepting attitude, as well as helping tackle the common issue of postnatal depression.

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This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.


1 http://bemindful.co.uk/evidence-research/
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16685074?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
3 http://www.scie-socialcareonline.org.uk/mindfulness--and-acceptance-based-interventions-for-anxiety-disorders-a-systematic-review-and-meta-analysis/r/a1CG0000000GcAIMA0
4 http://www.oxfordmindfulness.org/wp-content/uploads/bjm.-mindfulness-in-maternity.pdf

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